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Are Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro overrated actors?

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Deniro_Pacino.jpgI know I’m taking my life in my own hands with the title of this post, but if you’ll hang in there with me, you’ll see where I’m coming from. A few months ago I posted my top 10 actors living today list. Like any list it was totally subjective. However, I left Pacino and DeNiro off the list and several people have commented that it was a mistake to do so. Just today someone left this in the comments section:

Pathetic!! where’s Pacino and Da Niro?? Watch these films then re-do the list: Scarface (watch it about 10 times), Godfather parts 1 and 11 (about 8 times each), Carlito’s Way (about 4 times should do), Dog Day Afternoon (you’ll want to watch it again and again, Taxi Driver, Casino, The Deer Hunter. Respects for including Jack Nicholson, totally agree there. But come on – Robbin Williams??? If you don’t enjoy my listed movies you need to get your priorities right man!!

I’ll agree that both Pacino and Deniro have given some great performances and been in some remarkable films. HOWEVER, just because an actor is in a great film doesn’t mean he’s a great actor. Not to mention neither Pacino or Deniro have given a really good performance since Heat in 1995 (9 years ago).

How about these stinkers given to us by Pacino and Deniro over the last few years:
– City by the Sea (Deniro)
– Gigli (Pacino)
– Showtime (Deniro)
– The Recruit (Pacino)
– Analyze That (Deniro)
– Sim0ne (Oh gag) (Pacino)
– The Score (Deniro)
– The Devil’s Advocate (Pacino)
– 15 Minutes (gag gag gag) (Deniro)

Here’s something else to keep in mind about Pacino and Deniro. They are both essentially the SAME FRIGGING GUY in almost every film they’re in. They’re like Kevin Costner that way. Pacino always talks the same, moves the same… he’s the same frigging character with a different name in almost all his credits. Same with Deniro. Its all they can do! Granted, they both do it VERY well… but it’s still all they can do.

Contrast that with someone like Robin Williams. Williams can play almost ANY role with a shocking diversity you rarely see on screen. An unassuming killer in Insomnia, a disturbed and misunderstood loner in 1 Hour Photo, A psychotic maniacal kids show host in Death to Smoochy, the professor in Dead Poets Society (Which he SHOULD have won an Oscar for), the psychologist in Good Will Hunting (which he DID win an Oscar for)… and on and on and on. Williams has never been in a film as good as The Godfather and he’s never given a single performance as good as Pacino in Scarface or Deniro in Heat, but he is vastly more talented an actor when it comes to playing diverse rolls and different kinds of films. Deniro and Pacino have both shown they can’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I really like Pacino and Deniro both! As a matter of fact I think they’re great! They’ve given us some of the most memorable characters on the screen in the history of film. It’s just that most of those characters are all usually alike. You may leave your differing opinions (hate mail) in the comments section below.

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  • I know both of them have pumped out some films that are less than stellar, but the gems far outweight the duds.

    I do agree they do play the exact same character in every film, but that’s not a bad thing. Your list wasn’t “The top 10 most versatile actors”.

    The fact is, these two guys have made some of the most memorable films out there.

  • It’s hardly brave to call Robert DeNiro a hack; it’s virtually become accepted opinion. I don’t want to say his best days are behind him, but with every new film they become more and more distant memories. It’s been that way for years now.

  • Neither of them is doing much good work these days. DeNiro did some tremendous work once. Pacino has been consitently overrated his entire career. Many people appear to think and intense, unblinking stare amounts to great acting.

  • Eric Olsen

    The problem seems to be when you become iconic it is very easy to cross over into self-parody, or at least to recapitulate that iconic image over and over again.

  • JR

    The Devil’s Advocate was a bad movie? That’s news to me. I don’t know whether it was good acting or not, but I found Pacino rather entertaining (it certainly wasn’t Keanu Reeves who carried that movie).

  • Chris Wilson

    Most great actors become bored with their craft and essentially play the same role over and over again. Examples: Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, Dustin Hoffman. Most of the actors on the Top-10 list are still relatively young and new to the business, having acted in about 25 percent the number of films as the actors listed above. I have ALWAYS though Pacino was overrated (Scent of a Woman, Scarface?!). But compare De Niro in “The Deer Hunter” and “Awakenings” to get a good idea of his depth and variety. By the way, “Heat” is an overrated film too…fun to look at, but emotionally bankrupt (pun intended)…..

  • esrnampoothiri

    De Niro is one of the finest actors of our time nobody has ever commented about his performance in RONIN one of the brilliantly directed, casted, acted
    film by John Frankenheimer. I have sen this film more than a hundred times…thaknk you

  • sydney smith

    Watch Al Pacino’s scenes with Kevin Sapcey in “Looking for Richard” and you can see just how over-rated Pacino is. Spacey can convey more with a look than Pacino can with all of his acting methods. (Except when he’s playing an Italian gangster, then he’s good)

  • Sandra Smallson

    Pacino and Deniro are two of the best actors ever. That’s the answer to your question. I don’t care if they haven’t made anything noteworthy in a while. If those two are not great actors, then Nicholson and Brando are crap. I have never seen the greatness in Brando but that’s just my opinion. Another person that is overrated is Sean Penn. Just because he is broody and violent and always against establishment does not make him the greatest actor of his generation. He is a great actor and that’s about it. Again, these things are subjective:) They do make for good debates though…

  • Smenkharon

    I agree with Chris Wilson and John Campea here, both are overrated in my opinion. If they are great actors, so is Harvey Keitel! For once I have something to agree with Sandra about, On The Waterfront doesn’t excuse Brando from the crap he’s put out since then. Definately overrated as well. That doesn’t mean there aren’t many enjoyable films with these actors, just that they are not in the top 10 actors living today.

  • Marie Ricci

    Hi Mr. P & Mr. D,

    Your both totally talented actors,
    seen all your movies and admire your
    work. I recently wrote an autobiography
    which is very real, good, evil alternate, styles and a lot of action.
    Would be honored to meet and have you
    look at the book. It would make for a
    blockbuster movie given the right people. I am Italian so can relate to
    a lot of similarities. Some you might
    have heard and thank you for your
    acknowledgements. It’s unpublished,
    but my heart is in the movies. This
    is my email above just fishing for
    someone to work with who is accomplished. Please keep me in mind
    I’m serious about this being on film.
    So either email Ricciduk@aol.com, my cous who has pushed me DSparacino and my sister who has guided me collypaws@optionel.net know my book.
    I am in Florida currently and can be
    reached. Thank you sincerely Marie Ricci

  • sammy

    Al Pacino truely is an amzing actor, can’t say enough good things about him. I’ve always thought Pacino should be higher rated than de niro, as alot of people i’ve talked to are like ‘whos pacino?’ dman that annoys me grrrrrr. PACINO FOREVER!

  • Mef tical

    UR out of you fucking mind!!!!!!!!
    if annything they are underated actors! u should be shot for saying that! Al pacino and deniro were born to act! They should be remembered till the end off time for there great acting! without them there would be no gangstar genre! but then again i cnt blame you for thinking what you think? after all, some people didn’t even apraciate picasso?

  • Banyon

    I agree with the last guy. You people know nothing about acting. The idiot who actually mentioned Robin Williams as a superior actor takes the fucking cake. First of all, Williams has the tics and gestures of a retart with tourettes syndrome, which would be fine if he was playing a mental patient. But for other roles, he comes off as a weird, spastic, somewhat gay, misfire of nature.

  • LUIS

    You mention a stinker given by Pacino in the Devil`s Advocate.
    I can´t imagine how a person who says that can be a film critic.
    ¡¡ You really need to get your priorities right man!!

  • Rolden

    Chris Wilson sounds jealous of the success and critical acclaim that DeNiro and Pacino have received. If you were truly in as you say 25 percent of these movies, please fess up today with your specific credits or stop. The fact is that great actors don’t have an endless reserve of emotions. Look what happened to Marlon Brando, it drove him half mad. Jack Nicholson has a quality not unlike a modern day Bogart. He’s comfortable in his skin, and can create characters which are interesting variations of his actual personality. Billy Bob Thorton has a lot of capacity to dominate scenes unlike most modern actors. For too long we have seen American cinema dominated by blandness of The Toms (Cruise & Hanks), the over reaching of Sean Penn, and the foi cool pretty boys like Brad Pitt and Leonardo D.

  • matt

    As much as I love DeNiro and Pacino, I do have to agree w/ a little of you’re argument about Robin Williams. The lines get blurred between Lead actors and Character actors, but each type is great in there own way. Deniro and Pacino are clearly two of the greatest lead actors of all-time. Actors like Robin Williams , along with one of my favorite character actors, Johnny Depp, are great character actors. They have the ability to morph into certain types of characters and make you forget(or not recognize) the actor themselves, no matter how famous and recognizable). A most recent example being johnny Depp’s performance in Pirates of the Carribean- a terrible movie by critical standards, but Depp’s complete involvement in Jack Sparrow creates an unforgettable character. Deniro or Pacino don’t have the chops for that sort of work. But I doubt that Depp or Williams have the chops for Jake Lamotta(sp?) or Serpico. Depp playing the latter would probably come off as a reprise of 21 Jump street and Williams in the former would just be plain gay. For these two distinct differences I still go w/ the oft cliche’d Marlon Brando as my pick for greatest ever. His body of great performances may not be wide – hell, he’s not even close to my favorite- but he WAS Staley Kowalski and he WAS The Godfather, and He was (insert character from Streetcar’s name). Even less heralded roles, like Last Tango in Paris, must be given there due. He was a unique genius b/c he masterd his craft as both a lead actor and as a character actor. He essentially took Stanislavsky’s method and made it his own…and he was the very first.

    Email Mattsironlung@cs.com if you have something intellectual to offer on this or any other movie/acting subject.

  • Ralph C

    Matt you bring up some good points on Johnny Depp, he’s a uniquely talented actor with an uncanny ability to disappear into his character. However he lacks a certain physicality and toughness, this was evident in Donnie Brasco. While he did a very commendable job, he was the wrong physical type for the role of the FBI agent. Brasco was a big, tough strapping, swarthy looking fellow. While a 40 year old De Niro would have fucking nailed that role, Depp was okay.

  • Rolden

    I’m still laughing at a the thought of Robin Williams as Jake Lamotta, that is funny:). He would come across very gay, just the idea of him wearing a wife beater shirt would look so queer,that a troop of boyscouts would relocate to another city.

  • MAGY

    SO how’s at the top of the list then?

  • Lucy

    Pacino, Pacino, the greatest actor in the world.My favourite actor in the world.

  • When I hear of a movie having either of these two actors, I figure the movie not to be very interesting, EXCEPT that De Niro did have a part in Brazil, which was a great movie, and he didn’t drag the movie down too much.

  • pisceswen

    Hey, I’m a Chinese girl who just started to love Al tow weeks ago. Ironically, I came to know his name through sitcom Friends – some scene in season one in which Joey thought it was a big shot to be Al Pacino’s butt double. And I thought that this Al Pacino must be a huge star. But not until recently did I really know him in The Godfather. At first, I didn’t know he was in it. All I know was Marlon Brando starred in this movie. But when I was seeing it, I kept wondering who is that Michael guy. Those eyes, I will never forget. And I think on some level, this young man stole Brando’s thunder.
    After googled him, I knew it was Al Pacino. No wonder he is so famous, he deserves it. Now I’ve seen his Godfather II&III, scent of a woman, sea of love, Donnie Brasco, devil’s advocate, Heat, Angels in America in less than TWO weeks(that’s all the movies I can reach in China). I know I’m crazy, but he’s SO GREAT!
    I admit that some of his movies suck; still he stands out with his talented acting and those sharp eyes. Sure he’s played many cops and gangsters, but they have different characters. And he makes those roles. I doubt that Robbin Williams will make an unforgettable Michael in GF2.
    I think every great actor has a role type he’s best at, and the greatness is to make that role unreplaceable (you just can’t imagine other actors could ever manage that acting). I know Al Pacino can do that. So, he’s one of my favorite actors. He is a BORN actor. Defininatly not overrated!

  • Lurch

    Patroit your an idiot. What a fucking moron

  • onur

    cok begendim bana mail adresime yeni
    robet deniro ile ilgili resimleri yazıları sunarsanız cok sevinirim..


    Basically there are 2 types of actors: the iconic actor (always seems to be the same guy) and the dynamic actor (flexible). One or the other doesnt make you greater

    Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro are NOT The best actors of all time but are good and entertaining to watch. They lack the diversity of say a Robin Williams, but at least they have forged a strong seminal type character in our minds.
    Whether it be Tony Montana or Michael Corlionne or the blind guy that goes WHOOOOA you still love the way Pacino comes across in the film – he is the undeniably central focus. Deniro makes subtle character changes i.e. in his tough guy persona in Meet the Fokkers contrasted with his determined and righteously filled bravado in the Godfather are subetly different characters- but essentially tough minded. They are good iconic type actors of our age but not like the best of all times i.e. Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, Jack Lemmon, James Laughton, Clark Gable, Peter Lorre, Peter Sellers (choose your own) or even modern dyanmic acting contemporaries like Spacey, Williams, Pitt et al.
    but they still fun to watch !!

  • I think both Pacino and DeNiro have outstanding bodies of work but have been in steady decline over the last decade or so. This may be in part due to the difficulty of aging actors to find meaty roles (see: Harrison Ford).

    I think you really have to hand it to actors like Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson for continually defying convention and re-inventing themselves. About Schmidt was an astounding transformation for Nicholson, and Eastwood seems, as an actor and director, to get steadily better and more refined with age.

    Pacino and DeNiro haven’t made it there yet: they’re trying to be Leading Men and thus are retreading old territory. That being said, they still pulled off great films in the 90s: Goodfellas, Carlito’s Way.

    Ronin? A passable chase film at best.

  • Salty Minga

    I find it hilarious that the original poster uses the most overrated actor of all time, Robin Williams, as his example of somebody that plays diverse roles. His acting range has not changed one iota since he was on Mork and Mindy. You could splice scenes of that show into anyone of his movies and nobody would be able to tell the difference.

  • I Disagree

    This is interesting, while Pacino may overract sometimes, he is undoubtley one of the 3 best actors of all time imo. Godfather I,II, Dog Day Afternoon, Carlito’s Way, Scarface, Devil’s Advocate and Donnie Brasco are all brillantly acted. The believeabilty factor is the most important component of acting, no versatility. Ditto Dinero. Lefty Buggerio is one of the best acted characters I’ve ever seen in movies, ditto John Milton and Michael Corleone.

  • finktypething

    Pacino and De Niro are undeniably great movie actors, but were fortunate to be lead actors in the seventies/early-eighties, when Hollywood was at its most intelligent, provocative, and actor-friendly. Then, quality movies like ‘Deerhunter’, Godfather’, ‘Raging Bull’, ,’One Flew Over’ and ‘Apocalyspse Now’ were also the mainstream. Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Brando, Nicholson, Beatty and others also flourished in that era, and became equally great and iconic.

    Among today’s great leading actor’s, Russell Crowe is probably alone amongst major leads choosing mostly projects of the very highest quality (from an acting POV). Tom Hanks is great too, but sometimes suffers from appearing in pap like ‘Green Mile’ and ‘Polar Express’.

    Sean Penn is a wonderful movie actor. Watch ‘Carlito’s Way’ and see how he acts Pacino off the screen every scene they’re together. His character is the most irredeemable jerk iimaginable n that film. Then watch him in ‘Sweet and Lowdown’ for a perfromance of great tenderness and pathos. As a more ‘muscular’ kind of leading man, George Clooney has a commanding screen presence cut with some of the best delivery of deadpan humour in contemporary cinema. But in short, the quality of mainstream films offering any kind of role for lead actors, has gotten so limited that very limited pretty boys like Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt, can be proclaimed great actors, and a slapstick guy like Jim Carrey will most likely win a best actor oscar in the next five years.

    There was once great hope for Ed Norton and John Cusack, but as they are essentially the same guy, and their schtick has lost its originality, that hope has now diminished.

    As the mainstream has dumbed down, the margins of the industry now harbour the most wonderful jewel-like talents – guys like John Turturro, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Riley, William H. Macey and so on. As none of them are conventionally handsome guys, and in some cases quite ugly, they are more typically character actors, though they sometimes take leads.

    So, what is my point? Simply that as big-budget Hollywood has ‘dumbed down’ – post ‘Heaven’s Gate’ – the amount of excellent showcase projects for quality lead actors has diminished. Pacino, De Niro were at their peak in a golden age of actorly Hollywood, that has now passed, just as guys like Schwarzenneger and Stallone found their zenith in the testosterone-fuelled action movies of the eighties. It is no wonder then that De Niro and Pacino should be so iconic, as they were at the top of their games, just when the art form as actors-medium was at the top of its.

  • Interesting thoughts Finkty, and I agree to an extent. But I do think that Depp and Cusack are clearly in the “excellent” actor category. Both take on quirky, risky, meaningful roles (Chocolat, Max) as well as well-chosen commercial films (Pirates of the Caribbean, High Fidelity).

    In any event, both have been in some of my favorite movies over the last 15 years.

  • mark

    Could you think of any other actor to play the lead role in Awakenings Come on. Seriously. If anyone doubts whether De Niro is the ‘greatest’ then check out the Russian Roulette scene in ‘The Deer Hunter’ Mind blowing
    Is ‘meet the parents the funniest film of the last ten years’ I think so Finally, Raging Bull was the greatest lead performance in the history of cinema. Would anyone agree

  • Richard Porter

    You know Mark, I posted something a while back on DeNiro and to be truthful, you have to look at his careerin two parts.

    You have one of the most gifted actors ever from Mean Streets to Goodfellas (and maybe, separately, Cape Fear). This includes (to name a few): Deer Hunter, The King of Comedy, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets.

    Soon after Goodfellas to the present, you have an actor (who does not need the money), who is selling his soul left and right to make really bad movies.

    Please no more Meet the Fockers sequels and absolutely no more “in-jokes” to his earlier serious mob roles.

    And commercials? Please stop!

  • I think the drop off did occur just after Goodfellas (which is just about my favorite movie, period, by the way).

    De Niro directed A Bronx Tale in 1993. I wonder if there’s any possibility that he started lowering his standards for taking parts (versus raking in money) around that time to pull together cash to direct prestige projects. I’m sure other people have theorized on this much more than I.

    By the way: Meet the Parents is very, very far from the best comedy of the last 10 years.

  • Richard Porter

    I do like Meet the Fockers as well, for a comedy. I just do not think it can be ranked with his other “best” films. He should get back to the intense, ORIGINAL roles that made his movies so provoking.

    Sean Penn has picked up the gauntlet so to speak with these type of roles.

  • Richard — I had just the same thought when I saw Scarface for the first time (amazingly, I had somehow missed it) a few weeks ago. I was so surprised by how “inside” his role Pacino was as compared to his work over the last 15 or so years. I still like to see anything he’s in, but now I can see how the accusations of overplaying or playing the same character have some basis.

  • I do not think Pacino and DeNiro forgot how to act at some point in their career. I think they just found it more and more difficult to find interesting scripts and roles. Look at the movies rolled out each year. These are not the only two (great) actors who churn out bad movies.

    Chazz Palmientari did not know how “The Usual Suspects” ended until he saw it months after he shot his scenes. Films undergo significant changes from the time a script is written to the time it hits the screen.

  • I’m not sure what you’re trying to say regarding Palmientari. Most films are shot out of order, and it’s difficult to tell if any are going to be good until the very late stages of post-production.

    I think you can make a case for a decline in the careers of De Niro and Pacino based upon their work over the last 15 years. Part of it may have to do with quality scripts, but that’s also true for any actor. Part of it may have to do with the difficulty to find roles for late middle age and older, and there may be more argument to be made there.

    By the way, I’m thinking at this moment that Carlito’s Way may have been the point after which Pacino started to decline. As someone else pointed out, Penn was great in the movie, but so was Pacino. I love that movie — what a great rush and heartbreak of a story.

  • Richard Porter


    That was indeed the wall for him, it was downhill (whatever speed you prefer) from there.

    There are great movies turned out, but it just so happens they are not in them. Here is a few over the years: Mystic River, Magnolia, Memento, The Cooler (really good), 21 grams.

    I am sure somewhere DeNiro felt it wasn;t a good idea to do Bullwinkle, Jackie Brown (really bad and I love Tarantino),Wag the Dog, Godsend and Flawless (phew). No clue that they might be bad?

  • I actually thought that Jackie Brown was a very interesting, very good but definitely not great film. And De Niro was good in it because he got to play a menacing, burned out side character. The build up to his violent, spontaneous murder of Bridget Fonda (who was just about begging to be shot at that point) was a jarring moment that let the rest of the story unfold.

    But I honestly don’t understand people who are in love with movies like Ronin or Meet the Parents. Passable films for the plane at best.

  • Richard Porter

    Really??? Maybe I will give it another look. DeNiro reminded me with his laid back, emotionless attitude of the DeNiro you see during TV interviews; rather stoic and not really giving during the interviews and the host usually has to pull teeth to get a few words out of him.

  • Richard Porter


    And one more thing: compare/match-up the career highs and lows of DeNiro with Director Martin Scorsese. You may see a trend.

    But this does not mean I wish to see a Taxi Driver 2, which I read somewhere.

  • He has a stoic creepy quality in Jackie Brown that makes him interesting to watch. That he’s in a relatively small number of scenes is a plus for him in this case.

  • Oh, Richard – how could you not love Flawless? DeNiro took his tough-guy iconic role to a whole new dimension in this film. Hoffman was wonderful as DeNiro’s drag-queen singing tutor, but Bobbie shone as the crippled strong man, forced to re-evaluate his standards.

    This movie made me reconsider my own opinion of DeNiro as (mostly) a one-note actor.

  • Richard Porter

    ??? Well DrPat, I am glad you can appreciate Flawless, but I recommend that you go rent The King of Comedy and then come back and tell me if you feel the same way.

  • godoggo

    And another thing. They’re too short.

  • So is Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. Most of the “big” stars, actually.

  • godoggo

    Oh, man, don’t even get me started on Cruise.

  • Aditya Singh

    The guy is certainly outta his mind.Pacino
    and De Niro are the best actors the world has ever seen.Robbie Williams is a good actor but Pacino & De Niro are GOD!

  • pacino_lover

    I agree! This guy is totally insane!!! You shouldn’t be allowed to be a critic if you think Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro are overrated! And if you thought Devil’s Advocate was a bad movie then you are totally out of your fucking mind! And as far as Gigli goes, Al Pacino only made a frickin cameo appearance in that movie! It’s not his fault it sucked…blame Benifer for that! If anything he made it a little less painful to watch for the ten minutes he was on screen! But as far as Pacino and DeNiro’s acting goes, they have both given such incredible performances over the years that anyone should be able to overlook a few bad ones here and there. No actor/actress has a perfect filmography.

  • pacino_lover: take a breath! Now another…

    The reviewer didn’t say these two weren’t good actors. He just said he felt others were better. He gave lots of reasons. If you disagree with those reasons, you’re welcome to say WHY – but just calling the writer insane because he disagrees with you is rude and childish.

    MY argument with John’s choice would have more to do with DeNiro’s role in Flawless or Pacino’s in S1m0ne.

  • Tina

    You miserable little shit!! How dare you insult Denero and Pacino they are the best actors ever, everyone knows that; other than you asshole!! Oh and to answer your question for this piece of shit website, no, I do not think that Al Pacino and Robert Denero are overrated actors but I do think that you are a shithead!!! Don’t ever talk about them again, they can kick your ass you little faget!!*

  • Anthony Guerino

    What makes them great is their believAIBLTY. Watch those bad ones agin. Maybe the movies are bad, but they are int he roesl, they are the characdters, they bring themeselves to the characters and circ umstances, in different ways, but they bring themselves. And anyone who says they are the same character in evey movie is overlooking the early stuff. Godfather- is that hootin and hollerin’ pacino? no, one of the most subltle performances in film histroy- dog day afternoon- totally different, serpcio? come on, watch serpico and tell me he’s the same in every movie. Watch footage of the real serpico, then look at the pacino version, then tell me he’s not a good character actor.. What about raging bull?

  • RTM


  • jim

    I’m sorry but a lot of you treat these actors like gods because theyve got O at the end of their name & overact to an absurd degree. Their are and where many far superior actors to Pacino & co but you have become slaves to conventional wisdom and can’t think for yourselves. Example, Robert mitchum was menacing in cape fear, deniro was like a cartoon character with a foul mouth in the abysmal remake. They are the same kind of nasty little characters in every film, maybe this reflects on American society.I confess to being english and maybe I dont get your national institutions. We have an actor called David suchett who could beat the socks of all the afforementioned. His versatility is superb, he plays poirot & for example the villain in executive decission with = aplomb

  • Jacobi

    Kudos to you on this great analysis. I couldn’t have said better myself ..

  • Both men are over 60 now, dont expect dem to act like they were 30-40, the thing is Pacino and De Niro can do one thing, but nobody else can do it like them exepct for Joe Pesci, they are cold blooded mafia actors. They should be on the TOP 10 list

  • eleanor

    you’re absolutely right although i LOVED deniro in taxi driver (not much else), LOVED pacino in frankie and johnny (yeah!! he’s great!!), and brando in films he actually tried in because he was a genius hands down. sean penn was actually good in dead man walking and fast times and that’s about it. everything else he’s a hammy over the top joke. it’s also established that meryl streep (at least among theater actors) that she’s a vain caricaturist actress who has to take over the screen and plays caricatures, NOT characters. but movie audiences are gullible and think that that is acting–being almost cartoonish. it isn’t. the great character actors like will patton, edward hermann, john lithgow, jeff daniels, paul muni, brando…etc..etc…you probably cannot place their face BECAUSE they are great character actors and their real self never comes through and you don’t remember them because they look completely different in each character.

  • DeeDee

    Deniro has to work on those low quality movies because he needs the money to keep the Tribeca Film Festival afloat.
    Also, I imagine it’s pretty difficult to turn down several million for a few weeks of work.
    He just moved into a new apartment at The Langham on the Upper Westside, and he has several people who depend on him financially (including his children,wife and ex-wife).
    I do think he should look at higher caliber scripts, and dig a little deeper like he used to.
    I have a completed script about an aging movie star that is so funny. Not Meet the Parents funny, but really hilariously funny.

  • Dean Tanyi

    I respectfully disagree that both Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro are overrated actors. Based on their past performances, in my view, they are well within the top 5 actors in the past 50 years. I agree that they both have not done anything that can be considered as stimulating or acadamy award winning, but one has to recognize they have been working their craft for well over 30 years -one may ask his or herself, “How am I going to perform after doing the same thing for for over 30 years! Pacino’s performance as Tony Montana in “Scarface”, simply brilliant -the academy voted against him simply because of the language in the movie. DeNiro’s role,as the hostile convict in Cape Fear -simply fantastic, but to this day has not been recognized for his performance in that movie. Deaner’s top ten actors: Pacino, DeNiro, Spacey, Norton, Dean, Eastwood, McQueen, Newman, Hackman, Keitel.
    Sorry folks, Marlon Brando good actor, but way overrated in my view.

  • Rick N.

    I totally agree with your view that they are overrated. I’ve thought the same for many, many years. YES, they are good, just overrated. Deal with it people. And by the way Rolden, re-read this sentence carefully, you’ll see your mistake.

    “Most of the actors on the Top-10 list are still relatively young and new to the business, having acted in about 25 percent the number of films as the actors listed above.”

    See your error? Chris never said he was an actor.

    Nuff Said…

  • Joe Boone

    Christian Bale is an example of an underrated actor.

  • Jimmy

    I think the reason DeNero is making comedies is for two reasons: Looking for ways to act with his buddies and doing comedies for a giggle because he has done so many dramas. I do not believe he is doing comedies for the money. I mean he was in a terrible role in Rocky and Bullwinkle, but that was just for a laugh I think. He just wants people to see his lighter side i think ‘cos people think he is oh so serious looking at his previous work.

    De Nero is the greatest actor alive. Look at the scene in Goodfellas when he’s in the bar with the glass of whisky in his hand when ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ by Cream Kicks in.
    The bit when you know he’s thinking about killing the old fat guy with the beard. You know this and there is no reference to killing the guy untill after the scene. He does this without uttering a word or making a violent reference. That my friend is acting at it’s very best and while Robin Williams is very versatile and can do many characters with all the bells and whistles, I doubt that he can pull off acting of that calibre. The closest he got to that kind of mechanics of acting was in Good Will Hunting when he was going ‘It’s not your fault’. That said Robin Williams is one of the best actors out there but he has a bit to go to take the DeNero crown. As for Pacino, he’s just Pacino aint he, loves his shouty stuff, if you want shouty stuff call him. And i disagree that Apocolypse Now is one of the best films ever made. It goes on…and on… and on… “I kept thinking about this guy and i can’t imagine him from the listening to him here” (you know what I mean), constantly talking and talking about the Marlon Brando character. War is hell etc. Yes we know. I think it’s a good film but it’s well overrated.

  • Jimmy

    Serpico was a piece of shit movie about “A STORY THAT HAD TO BE TOLD”. Just a collection of scenes of Pacino going “I’m not takin’ the money i don’t care what they say…I’m not takin’ the money” put together in different ways with not much else happening. THE FILM IS CRAP. I watched it expecting to be blown away and i couldn’t wait for it to end.

  • Bob

    It seems to me that if there is no swearing in a roll, Pacino, De Niro, or Nickleson will not take the part.

  • Johnny Harden

    I find that most people who think DeNiro/Pacino are the greatest actors of our time, are people who are taking acting classes and think it’s the thing to say. Bottom line, these guys have been in great films, but are they great??? Marginal at best. If any of us could get paid that kinda money playing ourselves, the line would go ’round the world.

    And what strikes me as more unbelievable, WHO REALLY CARES? I doubt that any of these posters know these guys personally, and really, what’s the difference. As for me, I find it both pathetic as well as entertaining, that so many people offer such passion that has nothing to do with their lives.

  • Grace

    Outta your mind!

    Pacino and De Niro some of the greatest actor who ever lived. Robin Williams is a great actor very versatile so is Johnny depp.

    These are all amazing actors.

    I rate Pacino any day of the week. Overated…NO way!

  • Miss X

    kinda agree with you johnny H! stupid, topic why did I answer…haha!

  • al pacino and deniro do not play the same characters in every film, that’s a really shallow conclusion. deniro in taxi driver is a completely different character than deniro in deer hunter. or deniro in goodfellas as opposed to in cape fear. deniro in heat as opposed to in stardust. granted stardust wasnt good, but he wasnt the same guy he always is. it’s a completely bogus charge, the man has plenty of versatility. same with pacino, although both have been doing similar roles for the last ten or fifteen years, when they’re not doing godawful comedies.

  • Jerry Graham

    I don’t see a name I admire as an actors actor is:
    Jon Voight. I’ve seen him play different roles & had to take a couple extra shots to see if it was really Jon Voight. He can change his voice, looks and dialect better than any actor I’ve seen mentioned above. Another great acytor:
    Eddie Murphy. Check out some of the roles he’s played…GREAT!

  • Joe

    Deniro and pacino that seems to be the question, first of all with the exception of the godfather pacino is almost always over the top which can be fun to watch but deniro definitely has played a wider range of characters awakenings to goodfellas ring a bell? Part of how good your considered to be has everything to do with the director you work with as the film truly belongs to them you would be amazed how many garbage performances shine in after the editing room. Just think of all of deniros best work taxi, goodfellas Raging bull for the love of God all of his best work was with scorcesse all of it! Then again the opposite could be true a great actor can be in a shit film with a shit director and make something watchable about it think Brando in a most of his films from the sixties that was a Great Actor! Deniro or pacino could’nt even hold a candle or carry a garbage film and make it interesting but they are still considered to be the greatest tehespian ever.

  • Brandy

    One of my favorite DeNiro roles was in “The Last Tycoon.” He portrays a film producer based upon Irving Thalberg. DeNiro’s usual mannerisms and vitality are toned down to play the physically frail genius. It’s quite interesting.

    Pacino’s a great actor because he can convey emotion and a sense of reality – he may have a very strong personality that comes through but to me, that’s what also makes him a movie star. Not many can be both. I think he and DeNiro are both.

    Pacino in “Scarecrow” is a bit different than usual, as well. I can’t argue with your list though because as you said, they are your own subjective choices.

  • Tim Thomas

    Both De Niro and Pacino have sold out. De Niro WAS a great actor. Now he just takes paychecks.

    Pacino nearly ruined ‘The Godfather’. He is the worst actor ever. I cant understand why anyone thinks he is a good actor. I think in the last 10 years we have really seen what he is made of. That is….absolutely nothing.

    Anyone who thinks Pacino was ever an actor is deluding themselves. De Niro was a great actor. He put in some spellbindiong performances. However he has ruined all that with that cr&p he has come up with the last 15 years.

  • chris

    Can’t believe Dustin Hoffman isn’t on your top 10 list. Also, pointing out how long it’s been since you’ve seen a good performance/movie from an actor is cheap. Actors are always going to make more bad films than good ones.
    I understand this article is a bit dated, so you probably couldn’t have predicted this back then, but look at Robert Downey Jr. and Mickey Rourke. Talk about a comeback.

  • Eric

    You’re all missing the point that he was trying to make. De Niro and Pacino are both great actors, and he wasn’t denying that. The point is that neither of them are well-rounded actors. They’re both one-sided.

    It’s like if there was a rock band that was really talented, but played every song with the same chord progression, beat, rhythm, tempo and vocal style. Yeah, they might sound great but eventually you get tired of hearing the same thing over and over again.

  • Sugan

    They are both great actors and are very versatile. For De Niro see the King of Comedy- an unbelievable performance- that will answer ure question about him playing the same guy. Pacino- was phenomenal in Godfather part2 and dog day afternoon- 2 totally diferent performances. I thought he was amazing in Donnie Brasco aswell- should of got an oscar. Yes they hve sokd out nd given some dissappointing performances. But both are still legends- at their eaks they were untouchable

  • Rachel

    I think De Niro and Al Pacino are overrate actors.

    Actors like Johnny Depp, Denzel Washington, and Leonardo DiCaprio get pushed aside, because of big names like these.

    Sure, a few great performances back then, but I’ve been unimpressed by performances and movies by them lately.

    I think Johnny Depp, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, are some of the best actors out there.

    They are always great in their movies and have such wide range.

  • Rachel


  • Jayanth

    hey the type of character deniro plays in taxi driver is totally different from wat he plays in goodfellas or raging bull…all of his characters are different…and wats this thing about them not making good movies post 1995…havnt u seen meet the parents and meet the focker???

  • amit

    who is then great actor man…..not pacino? not de niro? then who???

  • Kaz

    I completely agree with this author. They’re both good actors who’ve been in some great movies. But neither are anything amazing. Watching them try to pull off anything other than the gangster-style role is laughable. They will go down in history as legendary actors because of those gangster-style roles they did fill, not that there is anything wrong with that, but open your eyes people, neither are on the level of a Daniel Day Lewis.

    Oh, and on a side note… Does anyone else find Scarface quite monotonous after the first few times watching it, or am I the only one?

  • harifedr89

    I am an Indian and a huge fan of both the actors…say what you may, but I ve never seen actors define cinema like these 2 have done. they are incomparable,inimitable…especially living in a country like mine where actors only ACT, they cant BEHAVE like a character. De Niro is my favourite though,Al is great but whatever roles he plays, we tend to see Al Pacino(the person)which was never the case with bob. True that both these guys will be remembered for their numerous gangster roles.One things for sure …The Pitts and DiCaprios , Pattinsons and Reynolds can never bring the kind of energy n enthusiasm these men brought to the screen . I am waiting with bated breath for the release of Scorses’s The irishman.

  • Marty S.

    never saw greatness of Brando? Ah, so you’re the one!

  • jmtakulgrma

    First many great actors are known for a pro to type John Wayne, Gary Grant, Spencer Tracy, different moives same person. 2nd Al just has that THING you just can’t take your eyes off him when he enters the frame, even if the film sucks . Watch Angles in Amer, Panic in needle Park , Dog Day Afternoon. Never was impressed with Deniro

  • wamull

    both are grossly overrated and most of all not very versatile which goes along way in being accomplished actor and I am not speaking through my ahole as others are..

  • Robert

    Anybody who says these guys are not versatile are morons. Saying that would mean they haven’t seen the majority of their movies. Just because they have a made a lot of movies revolving around crime doesn’t mean they’re playing the same characters.

    If you really think De Niro is the same tough guy in Bang the Drum Slowly, Mean Streets, The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy than you’re obviously a moron.

    What about Pacino… playing a reserved war veteran returning home and then becoming a powerful, cold leader in The Godfather.. Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, Scent of a Woman, Insomnia, The Insider so many more.

    These comments are so sad and obviously the majority of you guys know absolutely nothing about cinema. Because if you did you’d know there aren’t even a handful of actors more versatile than De Niro and Pacino.. and Kaz, that handful doesn’t include Daniel Day-Lewis who overly relies on theatrics.

    There is more to being a versatile actor than putting on a mustache and using theatrics like Day-Lewis or putting on makeup and dancing around like a moron like Johnny Depp.

  • emil

    Finally someone said it! I think Pacino is a boring actor.

  • Igor

    Both are overrated, IMO. I’d never go to a movie just because either is in it.

    On the other hand, I’m reprising “Brideshead Revisited” now, and the performances of ALL the great Brit actors highlights the poverty of American actors. Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews, Gielgud, Olivier, all of them are just terrific in portraying their characters and suggesting even more with their subtlety. It’s a joy to watch.

  • someone

    Wow. It amazes me, but every now and then you find someone who claims De Niro is the same in every movie. It amazes me. Al Pacino, can often seem like he is playing the same character, but if you know anything about acting or actually care about the movies you’re watching, you can easily see the huge differences between characters. De Niro is even more different in his roles. If you think he is playing the same character in Godfather pt2, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter and Meet the Fockers, then you’re a fucking moron!

  • Mark Jackson from NYT

    Both sucks bigtime

  • Mark Jackson from NYT

    Especially Al Pacino. He was joke in his last movie, with Adam Sandler.

  • Ano

    Both are overrated. They have presence, which is not the same as being a ‘good’ actor.
    Everytimes you see de Niro, or Pacino in a new film you say: Look, there is de Niro, or Pacino.

    Thati s not a good sign.

  • Matt

    I agree totally. But actors like DeNiro and Pacino are cult icons and people who love them will never see the light. It’s like politics in a way. Even when faced with the truth about certain issues, partisans will never concede a point. These actors did magic primarily in the 70s, even 80s, but since then they have been victims of believing their own headlines about being acting gods, and it has affected their natural ability. Too bad. Anyone who compares work like Godfather, Dog Day, Taxi Driver, and Deer Hunter to their work since 1990 can see what I mean. It should also be noted that just because people can watch TV and movies doesn’t mean they can detect and evaluate good acting. Most people cannot, which is partly why people accept the last 10 years of horrible movies and TV shows.

  • FiftyFifty

    The people who are up in arms over the blog writer’s opinions of Pacino and De Niro need to calm the eff down, stop taking things so personally, and work on making more objective assessments.
    Both Pacino an De Niro have shone brilliantly in some of the work they’ve done, especially in some of the earlier work they both did back in their younger years. The acclaim they both garnered came from a legitimate place. However, as they built their reputations and marketability, thus honing their craft doing what they both seem to do best — playing intense, intimidating, tough-guy characters — they both became caricatures of themselves. They still commit 100% to the characters they play, but their authenticity is eclipsed by their over-the-top interpretations, as is their versatility.
    So for me, I’m both yes and no on the matter. Yes, because they’ve become overrated as the years have gone on because they surrendered to being typecast and playing the same “caricaturized” characters. But no, because they’re both capable (De Niro particularly) of being able to play a whole lot more.

  • FiftyFifty

    Oh, and …
    P.S. The morons who preface their die-hard pro arguments with “if you knew anything about acting” before offering opinions that are based on NOTHING more than personal bias need to SIT DOWN. That has got to be the most pretentious and therefore irritating basis for argument on topics like these.

  • Cobler Smith

    De Niro and Pacino are the best, if you think otherwise keep your fucking mouths shut you fat cunts

  • TAC

    If you think De Niro is essentially playing the same character in most of his films, you are not qualified to make that opinion. It’s ironic that you talk about Robin Williams’ diversity and yet you forget the Oscar nominated performance by De Niro in Awakenings, a film that Williams and De Niro appeared in together. By the way, I think Williams’ performance in the latter movie to be one of his best. But De Niro’s performance is sublime.

    Although superficially you may think that he often plays the same character, that is more to do with casting than his acting ability. He can do comedy, he has proven that in The Fockers. Love or Loathe the Fockers franchise, De Niro made those movies bearable, as did Streisand and Hoffman to a lesser degree.

    De Niro in Taxi Driver is not the same character as in Goodfellas, is not the same as in Heat, Awakenings, Fockers, Analyse This/That… He can do diversity, but I admit he is often typecast. But I’ve never watched any movie with him in and said to myself “he’s the same character as in *** or ***” unlike many other actors who do come off as being the same character, which is most likely them being themselves. Think Keanu Reeves, Nicolas Cage, Paul Rudd, I could go on and on….

  • Skizzy

    Robert De Niro and Al Pacino suck. I’ve hated most of the movies they been in, and those Focker films al were stupid, but all Ben Stiller movies suck also. A good or great actor is someone that can make you believe they are someone else. neither has ever done that. Gary Oldman is a great actor for example. Philip Seymour Hoffman is a great actor. De Niro and Pacino are like people that will tell you that painting is great because some book told them that, and a group of people told them the same thing so they hang a copy on the wall if they like it or not. So keep believing they are good, and losing 120mins of your life at a time that you could have done anything better then watching one of their films.

  • Helene Messina

    I found this site because I searched for Pacino sucks. I say that his acting skill is yelling or screaming. I first loved him in Serpico and then in the Godfather but over time he did become a caricature of himself and that is the same character he plays over and over. I don’t agree about DeNiro. As TAC says DeNiro does have range. He just plays a nut job or mobster so well that’s what he gets. I loved him in Analyze this and that. He plays comedy very well. I totally agree about Robin Williams, he has great range. Oscar worthy.

    • SusieQ5422

      Oh my gosh, you and I think exactly same of Pacino – I mean to the “becoming a caricature of himself” and the way we found this post. When I watched the Godfather as a teen after having read the book, I was so relieved that they’d found this new guy to play Michael. Back then his acting was subtle and nuanced. Now is he just over the top. Needs to retire and just teach or something. PS DeNiro’s still good although he picks some goofy movies once and a while.

  • Tippy Baldor

    You are 1,000,000% RIGHT in your assessment. These people that have DeNiro/Pacino fetishes are NOT critical thinkers. They are merely MOVIE critics.

  • NE Amjed

    just because all of you people still talking about Al Pacino and Robert Deniro is mean that they are absolutely in the top 10 actors of all time if not the top 2 ; but after all i believe that cinema is like poetry or novels or painting ; it is art not a science so every one has his own idea about it and may be all are right ; because art is like food someone like fish someone not ; but no one can say that fish is bad food. so you don’t like Al Pacino but he is the best ever believe me hehehehehehe.
    and take this note “scarface ; Godfather ; Godfather2 ; Godfather3 ; dog day afternoon ; Serpico ; Carlito’s way ; and i still have more movies from him want to watch and judge.”
    but man if you are really fear then you can say “i don’t like Al Pacino” but you can’t say he is a bad actor !!!!!!!! because no one say that about fish or apple or banana.
    same thing about Robert Deniro

    • Mr. Roberto

      I agree with not calling him a bad actor, but top 2? That honor should still go to another new Yorker, Humphrey bogart.

  • Ron

    Absolutely agree. People seem petrified of standing against the herd mentality – the status quo – and actually criticizing those who the media have crafted over the years as being sacrosanct and untouchable. But Mr. Pacino is worthy of criticism. I hate to shock, but he is not a great actor. A simple test can highlight this fact: imagine Pacino even attempting to play the King in “King’s Speech” in place of Colin Firth, or Lincoln in place of D.D. Lewis? Impossible. Could never happen because he’s a fellow who is locked in his hand-waving, lisping New York in-your-face, ‘look at me, I’m Al Pacino and I can emote’ hoo ha personna, and that is not being a great actor. Incidentally, one of the worst scenes I’ve ever seen was he trying to reassure Diane Keaton in Godfather – at her school. His “I – want – to ‘ have ‘ children ‘ Kate ‘ and “Because – I – wuv – you” has to be among the worst trash I’ve ever seen – worthy of a high school performance.

    • Mr. Roberto

      Could firth and Lewis play his(Pacino’s) roles though?

  • Thomas Gerard

    Based upon their early work, you can’t say Pacino or DeNiro are overrated. But you can easily say their best work is not even in the rear view mirror anymore. They have both long-since took the money and ran. But, you can say the same about other former greats like Spencer Tracy and Marlon Brando.

  • peter wickenden

    i heartily agree….early in their careers, they were doing some exciting stuff, turned in some very good performances, but in my opinion, they are not great actors….very good at playing aspects of their own personalities….but i don’t think either are really even actors….personalities….thats all…and God bless’em for making billions off that!…..true capitalists!!!!…but take an Edward norton, or a christian bale, or a Ralph Fiennes, or a Liam Neeson [ earlier in his carreer, pre action violent hero type guy]….or even Pitt, at times….P.S. Hoffman….amazing…..Penn…some really amazing performances…. good range for all of these guys….deniro and pacino always play the same guy….themselves…and to me that aint acting….tis opportunism….. and mighty boring…..so damn tiring….will never pay to see either again….shame on you guys for hoodwinking the stupid public….you are smarter than that, and probably have the talent to do much better…good lord!…look at the range of some really great actors……DDlewis…whoa…..I think Pitt, despite his pretty boy deal and some bad movies he has made, the guy actually has some range and ability as an actor..I think he and Edward norton and PS Hoffman are the best american actors of their generation in terms of being able to inhabit roles….feel bad for Mickey rourke, who was amazing! in a number of early roles…..great in angel heart and the pope of g. village…..a.nd I was very happy with his one role comeback with the wrestler………true talent, even if sidetracked….

    whats the deal with dec-rapprio!?he fucking sucks ass….the worst actor since Ford and
    costner…not surprising that he is a scorcesse asswipe…hahahahaha….sorry…just venting…I’ll never get over Titanis…the worst movie I have ever seen….truly……ugh!!!!really…..oh my fucking god! what a travesty….hahahahahahahasorry….

  • JOE

    Robert De Niro = Taxi Driver, The Godfather Part II, Raging Bull are you serious?
    Al Pacino = Godfather films, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Scarface, Scent of a Woman,
    Be honest, were you drunk making this article? Lay of the pipe, put the pipe down, man.

  • Mr. Roberto

    Not rated, Bogart and Cagney.